TPM News

House Democrats took to the grounds of the Capitol today to condemn the Arizona's controversial new immigration law and call on Congress and the White House to take action to fix the nation's immigration problems before more states attempt to take the law into their own hands.

The House group, led by Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) was joined by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who joined the speakers in calling for action on comprehensive immigration reform now. The speakers used strong rhetoric to condemn the Arizona law, calling it "legalized racial profiling" and comparing it to the apartheid system in South Africa.

"This law panders to the worst elements of our national dialogue," Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) said.

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It's nearly official: Gov. Charlie Crist (R-FL) will bolt the GOP and run for Senate as an independent, the St. Petersburg Times and Fox News each report. This much-expected event will drastically shake up a top Senate race in this perennial swing state, which has become more intriguing than anybody could have imagined a year ago.

The St. Petersburg Times reports that Crist has notified key financial backers of his decision. Crist has already announced that he will make his as-yet undisclosed decision official tomorrow, one day before the April 30 filing deadline.

The TPM Poll Average for the Republican primary gives Marco Rubio a lead of 59.1%-27.9% over Crist, the opposite of where things were a year ago. Meanwhile, the poll average for a three-way general election only gives Rubio a narrow lead with 33.8% of the vote, followed by an independent Crist at 27.8%, and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek with 22.5%.

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Frustrated by an ongoing campaign by the GOP to block debate on financial reform legislation, Democrats plan to hold the Senate floor open all night, potentially holding repeated votes to break the filibuster, or forcing Republicans to publicly object to debating their bill. But the move comes just as Republicans appear closer than ever to throwing in the towel.

"The voting is up to the Majority Leader, how often they vote," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told reporters after Republicans, for the third straight day, voted in lockstep to prevent debate on the Democrats' bill. "Staying in session? Making unanimous consent requests? Those things are all options.... Votes may be recurring regularly."

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Sen. Arlen Specter, who one year ago today switched his affiliation from Republican to Democrat, told the Allentown Morning Call that, just maybe, things would have been better if he never made the switch.

"Well, I probably shouldn't say this,'' he said last month. ''But I have thought from time to time that I might have helped the country more if I'd stayed a Republican.''

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When Wisconsin attorney general J.B. Van Hollen announced last month that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of several other AGs by suing the federal government over health-care reform, he presented the issue as a pressing legal and constitutional priority. "Wisconsin must act to protect its sovereign interests and the interests of the citizens of this state by bringing an action to contest the constitutionality of the (law)," Van Hollen, a Republican, wrote in a letter to the governor.

That may be how he sees things. But emails released this week by Van Hollen's office suggest that politics was hardly absent from the initiative.

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Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) told Don Imus this morning that some people think certain Wall Street practices display "a lack of patriotism."

"They really had a responsibility, a financial responsibility, I think, to start pushing some buttons, making some calls, doing things. Not just sitting there figuring out how much they were going to make off the disaster."

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Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called out Republicans today for refusing to move forward on immigration reform, despite his promises that other priorities would be taken care of first.

"I am going to move forward on energy first...but for anyone saying that we shouldn't do immigration this year--especially Republicans--that takes a lot of gall," Reid said.

Reid also expressed his frustration over the filibusters on financial reform. "All the talk of Republicans about wanting to do something about this bill before it gets on the floor is really anti-Senate, anti-American. They keep stalling, and they keep stalling."

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The campaign of gubernatorial candidate Tim James (R-AL) says that his ad proposing English-only driver's licenses tests has been a big hit -- and that it represents a simple solution to the illegal immigration problem that has become a huge issue in the state.

"Why do our politicians make us give driver's license exams in 12 languages?" James asks in the ad. "This is Alabama. We speak English. If you want to live here, learn it. We're only giving that test in English if I'm governor."

"There was no one catalyst, other than since we started this campaign about two years ago, and at least once a day someone asks us or calls our headquarters about what are we gonna do about illegal aliens in Alabama," said campaign spokesman Brett Hall, when asked by TPMDC what spurred the campaign to create the ad. "And our ad doesn't specifically address illegal aliens or talk about that. But we did see that the state of Alabama, in offering 12 foreign languages in addition to English for the driver's test, was absurd. But we thought we would home in on that part of it, and it seems to have hit a raw nerve here in the state."

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Former Rep. Tim Mahoney (D-FL), who lost a re-election battle in 2008 after admitting to multiple affairs and denying that he had tried to pay off one of his mistresses, is hinting that he may challenge Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) this fall.

"I'm seriously thinking about doing it and the more I think about it, the more serious I get," he told Florida TV station WPTV. The filing deadline is this Friday.

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